Technology, startup culture and remote workers are changing the way we meet, work and collaborate. Open plans don’t work for every situation and with more and more people working from home, it’s not practical to have permanent work areas for everyone. The following tips will facilitate maximum employee engagement and productivity in your workplace.
1. Be Flexible
Permanency and assigned work areas are out. Sharing is in. It should be easy for space to be configured in multiple layouts. This includes tables that allow for small group work, adjustable height surfaces for standing or sitting, semi-private breakout spaces for impromptu conversations, and places for small groups to gather in larger rooms. Modular furniture options should be able to be moved, stacked, mixed or stored.
2. Allow for Downtime
Google is known for fostering creativity and innovation using a variety of play options throughout their offices. Consider making space for a foosball table, comfortable pillows and sofas and a variety of lounge and breakout areas.
3. Promote Mobility
A new paper by Teknion and Perkins+Will explores the connections between sustainability and human health, resulting in the philosophy of Ethonomics. The authors of Ethonomics say that “until very recently, all of human survival and comfort relied on a person’s ability to move.” The human body is designed to be in motion. In the past century, this motion slowed to a halt. How can you change your layout or technology to allow employees to move around, stand during meetings or climb a few stairs? Why not try a workplace wellness challenge?
4. Work Together
Shared tables are becoming more prevalent in restaurants and hotels as well as the workplace. Shared tables create a sense of kinship, a homier environment and promote family-style collaboration.
5. Mix Up the Space
A bland workplace that is all the same can stifle autonomy and impede engagement. Create a variety of spaces that encourage connection and chance meetings. Consider providing booths for private areas or concentrated work and locating conference areas in the middle of active common areas.
6. Plenty of Sunshine
Sufficient exposure to natural light is linked to better sleep and vitality. A lack of sunlight can cause depression. When designing to incorporate natural light, keep harsh glares off computer screens. Skylights and taller windows, as well as designs that include natural elements, textures, and patterns, are highly beneficial to both staff and visitors.
7. Plan a Color Scheme
Color can influence mood, perception and even physiological reactions. Used correctly in your design, it can also help with communication and improve efficiency. Different colors facilitate different types of work, plan your space accordingly. Reds incite passion and energy, blues and greens improve concentration and reduce fatigue, yellow boosts optimism, creativity, and innovation.
8. Increase Airflow
You can’t work if you can’t breathe. Poor airflow can affect employees health and brain function. Design to accommodate good airflow and check your ventilation systems often to ensure healthy air reaches every corner of the office. Encourage employees to walk rather than drive to meetings where possible.
9. Tidy Up
A messy space can be a distraction, cluttering the mind and attacking the senses. Hide wires and cords. Clean surfaces leave space open for collaboration. Invest in tables and desks that can internalize wires. Provide plenty of storage and offer tech options that promote a paperless environment to keep your space visually spare.
10. Get Sensitive (and Sustainable)
The demand for more flexible work environments means one-to-one desk assignments may not work for your company anymore. The Internet of Things can help prevent wasted resources. Sensors can be used to talk to apps on your devices and increase efficiency. Heat sensors in desk chairs will allow staff or contract workers to move in and out, receive alerts and book office time through their devices when space is available. IoT applications also work for utilities and operations. Turn lights off and heat down when nobody is in a room. Monitor levels everywhere from the supply room to the bathroom, from soap to paper clips.